There are many, many promotions. But there are only a few really, really good ones.
In this monthly roundup, we highlight the five most lucrative offers currently available to members of airline and hotel loyalty programs.
(Promotions are listed in alphabetical order.)
1. Double Elite-Qualifying Miles From American, Continental, and United
We're now into the year's second round of double elite-qualifying mile (EQM) promotions, putting elite status and perks within reach of even occasional flyers.
2. Double Miles for Dining
Through September 30, members of the programs of Alaska, American, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways can earn 10 miles per dollar spent—but only for qualifying dines on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
As discussed in a recent blog entry, opportunities to earn 10 miles per dollar are few and far between. So load up on miles while this offer is in place, but don't forget to count the calories.
3. Double-Mile Offer from Delta
If desperate times call for desperate measures, the current recession and precipitous falloff in travel call for frequent flyer promotions like Delta's latest.
Through December 31, members of the programs of Delta and Northwest can earn double frequent flyer miles for all Delta and Northwest flights in all classes of service. Travelers must register to receive the bonus, by September 30.
There is one qualifier to this promotion that slightly limits its applicability: Flyers must be Delta SkyMiles credit card customers in order to earn the bonus miles, although it's not necessary to actually charge the tickets to the card.
For those who already hold an American Express-issued Delta credit card, the requirement is obviously moot. But for those who don't, it could be a sticking point. Even though American Express waives the card's annual fee for the first year, applying for a credit card is not something that should be taken lightly.
4. Fall and Winter Hotel Offers
Where the airlines have responded sluggishly to the recession, the hotels have launched wave after wave of robust bonus offers, creating the longest period of sustained promotional activity in memory. Among the current offers:
- Between September 13 and November 22, Best Western Rewards members will earn double points for two qualified nights, triple points for three nights, and quadruple points for four nights. Stays must be charged to a MasterCard to qualify. Nights need not be consecutive to count toward the bonuses. In addition, there's a 250-point bonus for booking stays on bestwestern.com, earnable twice for a maximum of 500 points.
- Through November 19, members of the Choice Privileges program will receive 8,000 points after every stay of three consecutive nights at Cambria Suites, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn hotels. That's enough for a free night at more than 1,500 hotels in the Choice network. For those who don't have the required three-night stay, Choice is also offering 500 bonus points for shorter stays during the same period.
- Through October 15, Hilton HHonors members who opt to earn airline miles and have selected Delta or Northwest as their preferred airline can earn bonus miles and elite-qualifying miles for Hilton stays of two or more nights. Members who choose variable miles will earn one bonus mile plus an elite-qualifying mile for every dollar spent, up to a maximum of 5,000 miles. Those who choose fixed miles will earn 500 bonus miles plus 500 elite-qualifying miles per stay.
- Between September 15 and December 15, members of InterContinental's Priority Club Rewards can earn double Priority Club points for the second and subsequent stays at participating InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn hotels. For stays at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites hotels, the bonus kicks in immediately.
- Between September 15 and January 15, Marriott is reprising its MegaBonus offer: 2,500 points for the second and every subsequent stay at Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels. Qualifying stays must be charged to a Visa card, and there's a maximum of 25,000 points that can be earned during the promotion.
- Omni is offering members of its Select Guest program triple American or United miles for qualifying stays through December 31.
- Through November 30, members of Starwood's Preferred Guest program can earn 500 or 1,000 points per stay, depending on the property, at most participating Starwood hotels.
- And through December 31, members of Wyndham's Rewards program can earn triple Southwest credits for every second stay at Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel Inn & Suites, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate, and Wyndham hotels.
5. Online Booking Bonus From United
Remember when online booking bonuses were the norm? Now they're the exception. United's is only on offer for a limited time. And there's a catch.
Through October 31, Mileage Plus members can earn 500 bonus miles for one flight booked on united.com, provided they haven't made a booking on United's website since August 14, 2008.